Power Comes From God, Not Guns – Captain Iniobong Ekong (Rtd)

- Gov Emmanuel Has Done So Much In 5 Years


Iniobong Ekong is a security expert and the senior special assistant to Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom state on security matters. Ekong who served in the same capacity in the previous administration is also a former chairman of Nsit Ubuim Local Government Area. He speaks on a wide range of contemporary issues in this interview with Crystal Express. Excerpts.

Akwa Ibom under Governor Udom Emmanuel has experienced peace in a state which hitherto recorded violent crimes. What accounts for this?

First, I think it has to do with the make-up of the people, and the inter-relationship within Akwa Ibom State as a big community. The people inter marry and cross marry and there is that network of bond and relationship within and among the people in such a manner that you will hardly find an isolated man that does not have links to one part of the state or the other irrespective of how close knitted his family is. Secondly, the desire of the people to make tomorrow better than today keeps them constantly in search of better alternatives to whatever they had experienced yesterday. Thirdly and most important is the hand of God in the state. Akwa Ibom State has been blessed with very good leaders even from the military era. There is no military governor sent to Akwa Ibom that cannot point at one thing he did to move the state forward. I think that Akwa Ibom generally has measured up well.

The last election was one people thought the state will collapse owing to threats and foul languages used by politicians. Yet it was very peaceful. What accounted for it?

If the politicians or their agents had acquired weapons, who were they going to kill? Election is not about weapons. You must have something to offer, you must be convincing to people, you must earn the trust of the people and with the voluntary fellowship of the people. You cannot incite people to kill others for you to reign. Why don’t you die first? When you bring weapons and share to your people and killings start, the victims may not be far from being a member of your family or extended family. There is no need to fight and kill because you prefer Effiong to rule against Okon, because both are Akwa Ibom sons. There must be some checks and balances. A true politician must appeal to the conscience and support of the people to win elections not through violence. Again, there is the God factor. Power comes from God and I have not seen anywhere they said power comes from the gun. If God does not give, you cannot get and that is the whole truth a decent politician must imbibe in his mind.

Few days to the last election, you lost your freedom. Akwa Ibom people would want to know why you were arrested before the election.

When a thing like that happens, you need to look at it with a critical mind. Yes I lost my freedom. I was a victim but I will rather see it as a refinement process, notwithstanding how bitter the experience was. I think God is taking me somewhere. I had to give that sacrifice for the benefit of my people. The good thing was that I did not lose my life in the process, contrary to what the plan was. And it has advanced my belief in one united Akwa Ibom when I saw the revolt of the people, naturally, some people will laugh at someone who encounters misfortune but when I took my time to go through the platforms that rose in support of my freedom and the collective opinion of the people who spoke against the injustices meted out to me by the arrest, I became proud of my people. However, I have brushed aside the experience and forgiven the actors and moved on. So, if anybody looks at the entire drama before and after my arrest and thinks that I have contributed fine, otherwise it is one of the things destined for me to pass through to be where I am today.


There were rumours in the air when you were arrested that you refused to compromise with the opposition party in the state. Could it be true?

Overtures were made to me and I had to say no to what I don’t believe in. I don’t believe in dual positions in any matter. I was not trained that way by my father. I was not trained that way by my profession in the military. If I stand with you, I remain with you. I can stay with you even on empty stomach because I believe in you. And when I find out I cannot stay any longer with you, I will also approach you and tell you my reasons and seek your permission to leave, and that is the only time I can open up to another bargain. It is the worst thing anyone can do if a man has enough confidence in you to put you in the service of his security apparatus and you became a sellout. You have a choice to resign honourably if you cannot stay true to whoever employs you to work for him to deliver, defend and stay loyal to him. Those are the things that accounted for the appointment I have held and if anyone in this kind of position will not stick to the virtues, the only option is resignation. The worst thing a man can do to us is to stay with a face and wear a mask in another direction and that I can never do even if I am hungry. I will never compromise trust and integrity. They are the hallmark of the foundation that I have been trained and groomed and I have benefited from it.

The Governor Emmanuel’s administration you are currently serving made a promise to industrialize the state. Are you impressed with what is on ground?

At this stage we are no longer talking about promise as the facts are on ground. No administration in this state has put up anything close to what we have on ground today as industrial revolution. It started with the revival of Peacock Paints and it would have been better if other administrations had put something on ground too no matter how small. Today, we could have become a complete industrialized state but there are many things on ground ranging from pencil to tooth pick factories. We also have syringe and metering factories plus Flour Mill, Plywood factories among many others. The governor has fulfilled all the promises he made and if there is any remaining, then he may have scrunitized and observed that it was not in the interest of Akwa Ibom people. Look at Ibom Air, there is no Akwa Ibom son or daughter who will not like to travel to the state or outside the state in his/her state airline. Another unique thing about the airline is the manner in which they have packaged their operations such as cleanliness, timeliness, courteousness and respect for their customers. What else will someone need from such an organized airline? I have served different governments and will tell you that eight years is not enough for most governments to fully deliver on their campaign promises. But Governor Emmanuel has done so much within 4-5 years. So even if they sleep in the next three years, they have done their best.

Considering the road projects done by Governor Emmanuel’s administration so far, will you give them a pass mark?

Yes I will, even though there is room for much improvement.

I want you to take a cursory look at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and say if the agency has done well here to justify its creation; Has it?

I don’t think I will like to waste my time with NDDC matter as an intervention agency. How would you describe an intervention agency without a headquarters of its own more than 20 years after creation. If you cannot take care of yourself, is it possible to care for someone else? If they cannot achieve a project of a permanent head office after the past 20years, what can they do for anybody? It will amount to waste of time to go into analysis of what is going on in NDDC.

Looking at Akwa Ibom State of today which is the highest contributor to the national coffers but without federal presence, do you think that the Federal Government has been fair to the state?

We are operating a federation and we are also a Third World and developing country. many things don’t work on auto plug system. As long as we are asking the Federal Government to come and do what they are supposed to do for us, we must not go to sleep and expect them to come. There must be an inclusive element of relationship, a capacity to lobby, a belief in integration of who we are and what we can lobby for. Project attraction, delivery and emancipation in a country like Nigeria as heterogeneous as it is, have to do with so much political undertones. First, you must have a symbiotic relationship with the Federal Government. Secondly, you must know what they have and what you can get. There must also be a channel of attraction.

It is all about politics and we need to play it. When you have identified that channel of attraction, you begin to activate the channels and identify with the owner. It is good that we are an oil producing state, but it is not enough. We must plan how to get it and bring it where we want it to be. That is true administration, politics and diplomatic relationship.

Insecurity in the country has forced the South West to form their own security outfit called Amotekun. Do you think Nigerians at this time need such arrangement for protection?

I am a product of the Federal Government College. I am a product of the Nigerian Armed Forces. I have been trained by Nigeria and I have benefited from Nigeria. Going to your question in particular, the need to defend oneself is a fundamental principle but this is also defined by law. As much as the natural instincts is for you to defend yourself, you must be conscious of the fact that the attempt to defend that natural instinct does not endanger your social freedom. I don’t have anything against the formation of a regional security outfit or any other, whether economic or social, but we must look at the laws and the control system. Once we are in conformity with the law and have enough valves to control the operators of what we have created, then no problem. However, I don’t talk much on what has not manifested. Amotekun, in my own opinion, is still a paper proposal as long as it has not hit the ground. I have not seen the law on how it will be operated. I may have very limited things to say.

As a former chairman of a local government area, what will you suggest to help revive the local administrative system which only achievement now is mere paying of salaries?

What we will do to revive and return the drift is to have an evaluation of the mental, psychological, social and economic capacities of any person vying for the position of a local government chairman. It is the encapsulation of these qualities and the capacity to deal with and handle affairs that affect people directly that must be the foundation of the qualification of who can be a local government chairman. The moment you carry somebody, irrespective of any pedigree or even qualification, and install in the name of a local government chairman, it is garbage in, garbage out. A local government is perfect, workable and dynamic but when you bring a misfit into the operational framework of that position, you cannot get anything out of it. We must be conscious of the kind of persons and their qualities before surrendering our collective destiny to him as a local government chairman. It should not be a matter of sentiment or primordial considerations. If you don’t control power, it can lead to destruction. When you bring people with complete shortage of these virtues to run the affairs of thousands of people, then there must be a psychological problem with the person that brought him in the first place and much more medical examination for expecting result from an empty canister. We must be very serious about the things we do before asking question about results.

Lots of people are calling for the restructuring of the country with major changes in the way government operates, including the handling of the nation’s resources. Do you think restructuring will douse tension and bring solutions?

RELATED: 2023: No Restructuring, No Election – PANDEF Warns

Just like I said, I am worried about Nigeria and I have my reservations which are very personal to me. But what is of concern to me which I am not comfortable with is the uncontrolled rising population against non-available resources. I am looking at a situation when we have not yet gotten any intelligence to proffer a balancing formula between the rate of population increase because we don’t have records of birth and the rate of resource dwindling which we don’t take into cognizance. These are the things that worry me more than whether we should restructure, segmentalize or not segmentalise. It is our future as a people that is my problem, the rising population against dwindling revenue and natural resources. That is my problem but the other opinion about Nigeria, I keep it to my heart. I adopt the “sidon look” posture of late Bola lge.


As you “sidon dey look” the Nigeria government has closed border to some foreign goods the nation is yet to sufficiently produce to feed herself . How do you see the policy?

Since we are operating a pedestal economy, it could be one plus one situation and may be the best in the circumstance. I want to tell you that the foreign goods did not drop from the sky. They came as a product of certain efforts that gave rise to them. The people who made the efforts to manufacture the goods did not come from the Mars. We can also shut down which is what I agree to develops our efforts to produce our own local goods. Diamond doesn’t just exist as diamond, it has to go through processes to refine it to become diamond. Let us not be afraid to become diamond. So let us not be afraid of making diamonds. If our borders are shut for us to produce our own goods, I think it is okay. Let us look inwards and see the best we can do to get our goods locally manufactured here and stop importing everything

You are one of the aides of Governor Udom Emmanuel. How is he relating with his team to move the state forward?

Firstly, I will describe the governor as a perfect gentleman. Secondly, he is one of the best strategists I have ever worked with. Thirdly he has the capacity to uncover a straightforward person or a rabble-rouser. If that is how you see him, which is how I am, then I can leave you to imagine how the working relationship is. It is something I am happy about, something I cherish and something I feel honoured to have at this time.

The people are already campaigning for 2023 election and a notable son of Akwa Ibom Hon. EsemeEyibo said that there is nothing like zoning in Akwa Ibom State even when your senatorial district is warming up to take their turn. What is your take?

I believe in rapture. I am talking about 2020 now. If I am lucky to get to 2021, thanks be to God. if rapture comes in 2022 whatever I tell you will not come to pass. So let us wait till 2023.

RELATED: Random Musings On A’Ibom 2023

The governor’s father will be laid to rest on Saturday in his country home. Can you tell us the much you know about Elder Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang?

It will be impossible for me who is under 60 years to know much about a man that was 90 years. But seeing his products, I can conclude that he must have been a very fine and cultured statesman. A tree is known by its fruits. I have interacted and worked closely with Governor Udom Emmanuel from his time as Secretary to the State Government (SSG) of the state and I have had informal associations with his siblings, both the elder brother and the younger one, and I have had a religious interaction with the sister and I have seen some unique qualities that run in their vein which are discipline, fear of God and sincerity. If these are the children, definitely there must have come from a stock that is respectable and that is my impression of the late patriarch.

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